SKA Operations Scientist/SAFe® Product Manager

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Saturday, June 1, 2019
Archive Date: 
Saturday, June 29, 2019
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Scientific/Technical Staff
Institution Classification/Type: 
Square Kilometre Array Organisation
Jodrell Bank, Macclesfield
SK11 9DL
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Job Announcement Text: 

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is a global project to build a multi-purpose radio telescope that will play a major role in answering key questions in modern astrophysics and cosmology.  Thirteen countries are now participating in the project, with others engaged in discussions regarding possible membership.  Facilities for the new telescope will be located in South Africa and Australia, with our headquarters in a purpose-built building at Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, UK.  SKA HQ currently houses around 80 staff but has just undergone a major expansion to accommodate up to 150 staff as the project moves towards construction and operation of the SKA telescopes.

Negotiations between the governments of SKA member countries to establish the SKA Observatory as an Inter-Governmental Organisation (IGO) have recently concluded; the IGO is expected to be established in late 2020.

This role is ideal for candidates with software development experience within a radio astronomy environment.

The Role

The SKA Science Operations team is seeking to employ two talented and motivated individuals to act as Product Managers for SAFe agile release trains (i.e. software development teams) as part of the software development for the construction of the SKA telescopes. To manage the software project, we have adopted best practice approaches to software architecture, and in particular the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe® - for Lean/Agile development processes.

The SKA Operations Plan is currently in the process of being developed, to be reviewed and submitted for approval by the future SKA Observatory Council. This document will outline how the SKA Observatory will be operated at its three sites in Australia, South Africa and the UK. The software development for the construction of the SKA telescopes, guided by the system design and operations requirements for the Observatory, will occur within the framework of the SAFe Programme for the SKA.

Two roles are available. One will cover aspects related to Observatory Science Operations, in particular proposal management, observation definition and planning, scheduling, execution and telescope control. The other role is related to the science data processor, its interfaces with the telescope manager and correlator, managing workflows for processing radio astronomy data on high performance computing systems, and the SKA Observatory’s interface with SKA Regional Centres around the globe.

As Product Managers, the appointees will represent the interests of the SKA Operations team and will be responsible for ensuring that the SAFe teams deliver value to the SKA SAFe programme by setting priorities, helping to define the work tasks (known as ‘stories’), and populating the backlog. As Product Managers they will have the responsibility for defining when work is completed and accepting that work into the Programme.

Key Responsibilities, Accountabilities and Duties

  • Working as a member of the SAFe Product Management team with key internal and external SKA stakeholders, including the Lead Product Manager, Head of Science Operations and the SKA System Scientist, the post holder will:
  • Be a member of the Product Management Team to develop and communicate the roadmap for the SKA Observatory’s software development programme.
  • Define and prioritise the content of the programme backlog.
  • Develop work tasks and features and explain them to the teams.
  • Define acceptance criteria for the work under their ownership and be responsible for accepting the results of the work carried out.
  • Work with the Product Management Team to establish the vision for the SKA Observatory software development programme, and communicate that vision to the teams and stakeholders.
  • Be an expert stakeholder for the teams.
  • Attend Programme Increment (PI) planning meetings to prioritise and plan future work and report on work carried out.
  • Communicate and work with the teams so that they understand the backlog items, their features, objectives and priorities.
  • Work with stakeholders to understand and define program objectives.

Mandatory Knowledge, Skills and Experience

The post holder will have:

  • A PhD, or equivalent, in Astronomy, Physics, Computer Science or a closely related field, or equivalent experience in a professional scientific computing capacity.
  • Experience of software development in a radio astronomy environment, or equivalent.
  • Experience with the operation of radio observatories and the acquisition and reduction of astronomical data.
  • The ability to manage workloads and targets in a dynamic and collaborative environment.
  • Ability to work effectively with engineers and scientists from a variety of cultures.
  • The capability and willingness to work in a team as a flexible, adaptable team player, able to work to deadlines. 
  • Excellent communication skills in English both upwards and downwards and with highly specialised project teams.
  • Willingness to occasionally travel, nationally and internationally.

Desirable Knowledge, Skills and Experience

The post holder would ideally have:

  • The ability to influence people in widely differing parts of a complex organisation.
  • Experience in a similar role within a Software Development Project in a Scientific/Astronomical environment.
  • Agile certification (Scaled Agile Program Consultant, BCS Agile Practitioner certification or similar).
  • Project management experience in a software development environment.
  • Experience of working with teams across multiple time zones.

Equal Opportunities Statement 

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion are at the core the SKA's agenda and we are committed to being an equal opportunities employer. Our aim to is recruit and retain the most talented individuals, regardless of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, religion or nationality. 
Women have traditionally been under-represented in the fields of science and engineering; SKA Organisation welcomes and encourages female applicants.  
Where applicants with a disability need facilities or adjustments to enable them to participate in the recruitment process, these will be provided.

Pay Compensation
Compensation Notes: 
Competitive Salary and generous pension
Application Deadline: 
Saturday, June 29, 2019
Selection Deadline: 
Saturday, June 29, 2019
Current Status of Position: 
No Status Given (Opted Out)
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Human Resources
Institution/Company Job ID or Reference Code: